House includes provision to allow state worker furloughs

05/25/2010 10:38 AM

The governor would be able to authorize furloughs for state workers under a provision the House inserted into an amendment to its proposed two-year state spending bill.

Rep. Rick Rand, a Bedford Democrat and House budget chairman, right, stands with Rep. Tommy Thompson, D-Owensboro

Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford and the House appropriations and revenue committee chairman, announced the provision in the committee meeting in which the House lawmakers first saw the budget bill. The provision merely allows the governor to use furloughs — unpaid time off for workers — as a way to save money.

“It does not mandate furloughs,” Rand said, directing his comment to Rep. Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort, who is the representative for a large number of state employees.

Graham had said he wanted to see that higher-paid political appointees would have to be furloughed if lower-paid rank-and-file workers were — and preferred that those supervisors and better-paid workers would be placed on unpaid leave first.

But Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, pointed out that the amendment didn’t specifically say that. It’s now something Rand and Graham said they wanted to work out, perhaps through a floor amendment, before the bill is passed.

“First of all I want to thank you for trying to work out some language that is a little more fair if we have to do this,” Graham said of the furloughs. “I hope we don’t have to move in that direction.”

Several agencies crucial to public health and safety would have to go through a special process to implement furloughs, Rand said. Those include the corrections department, state police and health facilities.

- Ryan Alessi


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